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My thoughts on positive kendo Pt2

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  • My thoughts on positive kendo Pt2


    I hope my skiing analogy didn’t confuse people…anyway, in order for you to develop the attacking mindset; you first need to improve your body mechanics, if the body is moving naturally and not forced the smoother you will become executing waza. Back in the day, this was the main focus during keiko for suburi, kirikaeshi, waza keiko and kakarikeiko.

    With that said, Ki Ken Tai Ichi needs to be taught, striking from the tanden needs to be taught, this is phase two in the kendo process. If this isn’t being taught, then problems really begin to fester, bad habits develop rapidly when executing waza which leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations for waza.
    If you’re skiing down the advance slope using the pizza and chopstick technique, your skiing ability really hasn’t improved, you’re just moving faster down the hill still using the beginners technique.

    Phase one in kendo will only take your kendo to a certain point, your development in kendo eventually hits a wall. That is to say your level for understanding the basics has reached its peak. Thus, phase two for basic fundamentals. This is shodan/ nidan level.

    I only say this because this was the way I was taught kendo. I just didn’t figure this out on my own; I had to be shown the way for my kendo to evolve. This is the difference in my opinion, when your kendo has reached its peak, if you’re not shown how to break that wall and move forward, you start to do other things to go around the wall instead. All higher level kendo really is just mastering the basics; (Ockham’s razor) it’s like everything else in life. This is easier said than done of course.

    Phase 2 or the beginnings for Ha. This is the phase I believe that never ends, you’re always tweaking things and experimenting, you’re trying to do the impossible task of perfecting your kendo. This is the phase where you’re trying to master not just the basics but the human condition and the mind. If you could master it, then you would become almost unbeatable, but…I don’t know anyone who’s never lost in shiai. Even 8dans lose. It is my belief the best anyone can do is if you train to your best abilities, then you will win more than you will lose. That’s why I believe phase 3, Ri is unreachable. I don’t even know what phase 3 even is… Is it the ability to master and execute every waza perfectly? Who really knows? So how do I perceive 8dans? I think they have a really good understanding for phase 2 basics, not a perfect one. So, with that said, what should your focus be for phase 2 and why.
    1. Kamae. This is number one in my book. You must find your true kamae, your kamae must be in the state of readiness. You don’t try to figure this out in jigeiko, you test this out in jigeiko, there’s a difference. You work on your kamae during keiko and at home or work. I’ve already touched on this a few times in previous posts so I’m not going get into it here.
    If your kamae is in a static position, the body cannot move freely and naturally. This is what you see in kendo today and this is why you see modified versions of waza and misinterpretations and misunderstandings of waza. They don’t execute waza in shiai the same way they execute in waza keiko. The reason why we practice waza keiko in the first place is so that we can execute it in shiai yes? So why is it different?

    What I hear a lot in the kendo circles around the net is that there are two different versions of waza; shiai/sport waza and shinsa waza. Here’s my opinion, sporty kendo is shu_ level_ kendo period. Sporty kendo is so predictable; you know everything they do just by watching how they fight because they’re so defensive. What I mean is that they expose all their weaknesses. It’s like they’re trying to fight like Sugar Ray Leonard to make up for their deficiencies. Kendo is not shadow boxing, boxing has the same principle, you strike from the core.

    Even in boxing, you strike from the core from a relaxed state, not from the hands and arms. This is the difference, kenshi who need to modify waza in shiai still execute waza from the hands and feet and not from the core. They’re really challenged offensively because of it; they can only attack you in certain predictable ways. And it’s mostly the same type of waza or half-baked method of execution from both kenshis in a shiai. You just see a lot randomly executed half-baked strikes from both sides.

    The bottom-line is this; first of all you don’t physically tweak and modify waza, you tweak and modify your kamae from static physical position into the physical state of readiness the same time you work on making your mechanics feel more natural so that you can execute waza properly. This is the beginnings for Ha phase. This is what you should be testing yourself for in jigeiko every time. The better you get doing this, the better you’re executions. In other words, you’re executions become less random, there’s real purpose behind your executions…which begs the question; *How do you go from randomly executing strikes to executing strikes with purpose?*

    Every waza that I can execute with confidence serves a purpose in shiai. Waza that I have problem executing doesn’t serve any purpose at all in shiai, I need to practice it till I get it right, then I can add it to my arsenal. Learning how to express zanshin when you execute waza is like learning a new language, it’s how you converse with the aite.

    In other words, the better you physically get executing a particular waza is what gives you mental clarity when you fight. You understand it’s use, you start to see all the various situations you can execute the waza to seize opportunities, the opponent doesn’t matter, the aite can be big, short, he can be in jodan or nito kamae, it doesn’t matter. Once you begin to realize this, that’s when you see the connection for waza and sen. The mind becomes clearer; it becomes more aware of various situations. Speed doesn’t matter when seizing opportunities, it’s all about timing the strike of the waza you execute from a kamae that’s in the state of readiness. (zanshin)

    That’s pure kendo to me or what sensei describes as beautiful. Here’s a simple test, imagine yourself facing a kenshi that you find the most difficult, using only your best waza, how many opportunities can you clearly see for its use?

    If you need to modify it be it by feinting or modifying your posture in some way, then you’re not training the mind like you should. Incorrect or forced body movement clouds the mind when executing waza. Training the mind correctly requires correct physical body mechanics, it’s just that simple. It needs to become natural. This is important if you want develop your attacking mindset to become clear like a mirror. Think of this as Windex cleaning solution. You need to clean up your mechanics, it needs tweaking, not the waza itself.

    Once you figure this out, then your executions become clean and efficient, not just your men or kote, but you’ll find you can execute waza that you couldn’t execute at all before…you become better at it and the same time this happens you’re developing a stronger attacking mindset. You start to discover how to use the waza in jigeiko, how they work for you in various situations, regardless of the opponent, you begin to strike with purpose because you now see the various opportunities to execute them. You understand the purpose for each waza you can execute with confidence. You now see the connection for sen and waza, which is your executions become more instinctive. (Attacking with sutemi)

    I hope this makes sense.

    You see, in a nutshell, this is what random striking is… you don’t have a clear understanding how to use the waza you’re executing. You just blindly execute it. You don’t understand the purpose for the waza. This is all due to your mechanics, it’s not efficient. You can’t improve your kendo if your mechanics are inefficient; this just leads to misinterpretations and misunderstandings when you execute waza.

    To be continued ….